What Katya did in Vidarbha
It is no mean feat that Sonora Jha’s debut novel Foreign concerns itself with the farmer suicides of Vidarbha, a tragedy ignored in mainstream fiction. Writing about deep anguish or the collective sorrow of a people can be tricky. You can either be clever about it and invent an allegory, or be prepared to plunge into the darkness. Jha, however, sits on the fence and commands a sweeping view.
Through protagonist Katya Mishra, a reluctant insider, she trains the knowing lens of an anthropologist on the killing fields. Multiple worlds collide in a fairly credible fashion, leaving us with a gripping, if self-conscious, tale.